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  Man with Two Brains, The The Doctor Is Sick
Year: 1983
Director: Carl Reiner
Stars: Steve Martin, Kathleen Turner, David Warner, Paul Benedict, Richard Brestoff, George Furth, James Cromwell, Peter Hobbs, Earl Boen, Bernie Hern, Randi Brooks, Jeffrey Combs, Sissy Spacek, Merv Griffin
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: Dr Michael Hfuhruhurr (Steve Martin) is a brilliant, although less than modest, brain surgeon who has created the pioneering screwtop method for his operations. One day as he is driving home while being interviewed for a newspaper article, a young woman runs out in front of his car and is run over just as he is fighting back the grief for his recently deceased wife. This woman is Dolores (Kathleen Turner) a gold digger who has just given her elderly, wealthy husband a heart attack after finding out he wrote her out of his will - Dr Hfuhruhurr knows nothing of this and proceeds to use his techniques to save her life. Soon he is in love with her, and although the feeling isn't mutual, she plays along in the hope she'll get her hands on the doctor's money...

The most common complaint about Steve Martin from the nineteen nineties onwards was that he wasn't funny anymore. A superb stand up comedian, he had successfully shifted his act to television and film, and the movies he made with director Carl Reiner were a fine example of his comedy: stupid but clever at the same time. The Man with Two Brains was scripted by Reiner, Martin and George Gipe, and was probably the funniest film Martin made in the first half of his career, making it plain in the second, "I want you to take me seriously" half that the belly laughs had dried up to some extent, and not just because he was now making films with no deliberate jokes, either.

Some may prefer The Jerk, but this equally ridiculous comedy probably shows Martin at his most inventive as far as efforts for the silver screen went. It's not long before the doctor and Dolores are married, yet not happily as she refuses to consummate the union, saying that she had not recovered sufficiently after her operation. This results in an extremely tense Dr. Hfuhruhurr who runs up walls and French kisses X-rays, until his boss suggests that after six weeks and no action in the bedroom, perhaps a honeymoon would be in order. All the while the gags-per-minute ratio is commendably high, and that's even before the main thrust of the plot is introduced.

A conference in Europe, Austria to be precise, is just what the doctor ordered, so off the newlyweds go to mix business with pleasure, Unfortunately, Dolores' idea of pleasure is sleeping with any man except Dr Hfuhruhurr, that is until she discovers he has a huge inheritance coming his way, which is exactly what she wants. So now she is extra nice to her husband, but there's a snag: he's fallen for someone else. Or something else, in fact, as he has met with a certain Dr Necessiter (David Warner essaying an ideal mad scientist role) who wants to join him in his research, and has a whole laboratory full of fresh brains all ready to be experimented on. And it's one of those brains the surgeon falls for, as he finds he has a telepathic link to one (voiced by an uncredited Sissy Spacek).

All the while there is a serial killer on the loose, injecting his victims with window cleaner which conveniently for Dr Necessiter makes the brain die last. Now Dr Hfuhruhurr (a name nobody can pronounce expect the brain) has to find a body, and not the one Necessiter has been using for his work ("I couldn't fuck a gorilla!"). In many ways you can trace the daft yet ingenious comedy of the Martin and Reiner films to the strain of similiar humour found in, say, Ben Stiller or Jim Carrey movies later on, and as with those there's a sweet-natured heart to the comedy, as absurd as it is, with Hfuhruhurr placing a pair of wax lips on the brain's jar all the better to kiss her with as they go boating on the lake. A wealth of ludicrous dialogue and excellent performances (Turner especially hits the nail on the head with her character) mean the hits outweigh the misses, and confirm yes, Martin did used to be funnier before the dramas and family specials. Music by Joel Goldsmith.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Carl Reiner  (1922 - 2020)

American actor, writer and director, a comedy specialist. He got his break writing for Sid Caesar's television show in the 1950s, then created the Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1960s. He moved into film with the autobiographical Enter Laughing, followed by the more serious The Comic and the controversial Where's Poppa?

In the 1970s he scored a hit with Oh God!, and then directed a string of fine quality Steve Martin vehicles: The Jerk, The Man with Two Brains, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and All of Me. He continued to direct into the nineties, and had a good role in the Ocean's Eleven remake. Father of Rob Reiner.

 
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